White Phosphorus shells fall on a UN school converted into shelter, Jabalya/Gaza, January 2009
“We came to the conclusion on the basis of the facts we found that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law — both humanitarian law and human rights law — were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza. The mission concluded that actions [amounting] to war crimes, and in some respects crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israeli Defense Forces.“ – Judge Richard Goldstone
The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict was created by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during the Gaza War to investigate possible Israeli violations of international law against the Palestinian people. The President of the UNHRC appointed Jewish Zionist judge Richard Goldstone, former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, to head the Mission. The report was approved by UNHRC on October 16th 2009.
Israel fully rejected cooperating with the Mission and consequently denied access to witnesses and members of the Palestinian authority in the Occupied West Bank. The report noted that the Mission “…enjoyed the support and cooperation of the Palestinian Authority and of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.”
The Gaza authorities reported 1,444 Palestinian casualties (The Israeli government reported 1,114 casualties); a third of whom which were believed to be women and children.
30. …The data provided by non-governmental sources on the percentage of civilians among those killed are generally consistent and raise very serious concerns about the way Israel conducted the military operations in Gaza.
…65. The economy, employment opportunities and family livelihoods were already severely affected by the blockade when the Israeli offensive began. Insufficient supply of fuel for electricity generation had a negative impact on industrial activity, on the operation of hospitals, on water supply to households and on sewage treatment. Import restrictions and the ban on all exports from Gaza affected the industrial sector and agricultural production. Unemployment levels and the percentage of the population living in poverty and deep poverty were rising.
The Israeli government has rejected the report. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he will not allow Israelis to be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court. The US State Department said the conclusions of the Goldstone report were ‘unfair to Israel’ and will more likely object to the recommendation that Israeli actions be referred to the International Criminal Court.
On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives voted 344 to 36 in favor of a non-binding resolution calling on President Obama and Senator Clinton, “to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration” of the Goldstone Report, which was found “irredeemably biased”.
The UN General Assembly is expected to discuss the Goldstone report this Wednesday.